Monday, December 24, 2018

The Imja Khola Valley in Nepal

The massive south wall of Lhotse seen from near Chukung
In the shadow of the highest mountain in the world lies a land of high passes, flower drenched meadows and massive glaciers.

The Imja Khola is one of the rivers that flows down from the upper reaches of the Imja glacier and joins the Dudh Kosi at Thyanboche. This essay covers the Imja valley of Nepal- the river flows down from the glaciers of Imjatse and joins the Dudh Kosi  below Tengboche.

A lone lammergier  approaches the sheer wall of Ama Dablam as seen from Pangboche 

Rocks and clouds

Yak in a snow storm 

Tibetan snowcock calls out to it's mate

The Imja Khola 

Rhododendrons in spring


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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Kandy Temple of the Tooth Relic | Sri Lanka

Entrance of the temple
One of the most sacred places of workship for Buddhists is the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy Sri Lanka which is visited by pilgrims the world over. On a recent visit to Sri Lanka I spend the morning at this temple.

From Wikipedia
Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site mainly due to the temple.

Bhikkhus of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.

The temple sustained damage from bombings by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in 1989 and by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1998 but was fully restored each time.

Flowers ready for offering outside the temple

A smaller temple in the main complex

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Everest Trek Updates November 2018

I trekked the Everest region in November 2018 and some updates which will be useful for trekkers are below:

The TIMS permit is no longer required and it is also not necessary to buy any permits in Kathmandu. The Pasang Lhamu Municipality permit is available in Lukla on arrival ( NPR 2000/-) and the Sagarmatha Park permit is available at Monjo ( Foreigners NPR 3000/- Indians NPR 1500/-).

Mobile Phones
Ncell is the service provider of choice and has good connectivity except at Dingboche, Pheriche and Lobuche and Gokyo. Nepal Telecom is the second choice in this area as the coverage is more limited.

Everest Link
There is now a wifi card available from Everest Link which works in most lodges. The cost of the card is NPR 1999/- for 10 GB data and NPR 2999/- for 20 GB data. I used the 10 GB card on this visit and found it worked quite well. The period of the card is 30 days.

Lodge Accomodations

Since October 2018, above Namche Bazar, it is not possible to make payments to lodges for rooms directly. There is a newly formed Khumbu Hotel Association which has a checkpost at each village and collects the payment for the rooms directly. At present the minimum rates are NPRs 500/- per room excepting in Lobuche and Gorak Shep where it is NPRs 700/- per room. Lodges can and do charge higher rates depending on the type of accomodation, attached bathrooms etc.

Updated Prices for Meals etc.
There has been a steep increase in costs of meals, tea, coffee, hot water etc since my last visit. I photograped a lodge menu at Lobuche and the costs as per menu are given below. At Gorak Shep it would be another 5-10% more while at Pheriche/Dingboche/Namche it would be 10-15% less. Based on these costs the average cost per day for meals only (excluding rooms) would range between $30-40 per day.

Trekking Numbers ( October -November)
There were a record number of trekkers in the Everest region this autumn. The month of October 2018 alone had around 14,500 trekkers  which was up from October 2017 ( 12,479 trekkers). As result, lodges were extremely crowded, flights overbooked and trails very busy. Trekkers to Everest next year should consider this in planning their dates. Interestingly, the crowds dropped by the 18th of November and when I returned on 26th November there would be around 40-50 trekkers coming in as compared to 400-500 in October!

The statistics for 2017 and part of 2018  as per the Sagarmatha Post is below:

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